I was meditating this morning. I had received a text from my Pastor a few weeks ago asking if I had found my “word” for 2021. His text came through at just the right time.
You know there are times in this world where I just feel disconnected from everyone. Maybe it’s the pandemic because I genuinely am disconnected from everyone. Maybe it’s the stress of wondering what will happen, will another person I know get sick or pass, and all the other stressors going on today.
All of it pulls me away from myself, the world, and my inner calm.
That text came at just the right time. I hadn’t realized how far away from myself I had gotten until I read that text and felt relief and gratitude that someone was thinking about me. And it’s not that people, family, friends are not thinking about me. It was that someone took time to reach out from their place of strength and share that with me.
That simple action pulled me back into me and helped me refocus on essential things, and that was finding my word for 2021.
I found it. It’s not going to be what you think it is. My word for 2021 is “self-interest”.
And you might be thinking, “Heard it, been there, done that, on to new territories.” Well, I’m not looking at this as, “What can I do for myself.” That’s our first lesson in counseling, right? Boundaries. And boundaries are a tricky slope. Boundaries are necessary, but they can also be unjust. So, for me, self-interest is not trying to validate my inner value.
No, when I found this word, “self-interest,” it came from within me. As I sat quietly trying to see the world around me, my thoughts got in the way. I was having a lot of thoughts bringing up a level of anger and feelings of unjust. It’s a crazy confusing time with specific unlying themes that have people frustrated.
The problem is, I can’t find a different answer if the only world I see is the world I’ve created in my head. And it’s not that the world I’ve created lacks reality. It is real. But, it is real in a time and place.
Let’s say it is the middle of the night in Lubbock, Texas, and I don’t like the night. So, I’m angry it is dark out. All the frustration in the world is not going to change from night to day. Only time will make that change. In time, the world turns until, at last, you are in front of the sun again.
That is time and place. Time and place are important in Daoism. It’s fundamental to why some monks can be at peace at a time of turmoil.
We live such short lifetimes. In a world that has existed over billions of years, my meager existence of 80 or so years isn’t even a statistical notation. How I think is linear because I can only see a very small piece of the whole. From deductive reasoning to fixing a car, thought follows a linear track. If it doesn’t, I become confused. I can’t focus on repairing the alternator and replacing the head gasket at the same time. I have to do them one at a time.
Within linear time, one thing follows another and produces a result. And that result is the culmination of the cycle of one lifetime. Being that humans are so focused on time, every action leads to an end result – kind of like an ultimatum. There is only one outcome.
Yet, within Daoist thought, time and thought is a circle. It is neverending and is represented by the taiji symbol. Within the taiji symbol, one thing follows another, with each cycle influencing the next cycle’s trajectory. There is not one outcome because there is not an end. My role in this life will change the trajectory of the subsequent cycle.
Yet, how does the Buddhist monk find that place of perfect balance and acceptance. It is not in meditating to perfect peace. Well, it is, but it isn’t. Taking the time to quiet yourself and find a stillness in your soul allows the world to open up.
That is why “self-interest” is my word for 2021. What stops me from allowing the world to open up to me is my self-interest. My focus on my work, my family, my future…all my focus on those things that have a personal advantage to this life. If I can just step around that for a minute, I can start to see the cycles of life, of the world, and recognize the concept of place and time.
I can start to understand that railing against the night at midnight has no purpose because it is time to be dark and quiet and rest. Yet, darkness will not last forever. A cycle always moves through every phase, and the previous phase influences the next phase.
So, I can start to understand that the daylight is coming and can prepare for the daylight. And just understanding your place in time helps free up the pressure of this one life, this one cycle of time. Everything isn’t accomplished right now. In fact, only a piece of your accomplishments will influence the next cycle. In my book, “Caregivers Survival Guide, how to eliminate stress in 30 minutes and other useful tools” I talk more in-depth about how one cycle sets the foundation for the subsequent cycle.
Yet, if I can just lay down the self-interests for a minute and see the world, I can find acceptance of the world with all its warts and blemishes, knowing that my actions will either help the next cycle or hinder the next cycle.